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Tips for Deep Cleaning Like a Pro

By Julie Senger

As winter ends and warm weather begins, many of us are motivated to purge unwanted or unneeded items, reorganize what remains, and scour our homes. Check out these tips that are sure to make this spring cleaning process a little easier, using items and ingredients you likely already have on hand. Before using any of these tips, consult owner’s manuals to prevent possible damage.


  1. Use a putty knife or Magic Eraser to remove dried soap scum from bathtubs, sinks, and tile.
  2. Mix a teaspoon each of liquid soap and baking soda and add a few drops of antibacterial soap to create a nontoxic paste to clean tubs and sinks.
  3. To clean smelly drains, pour a mixture of ½ cup of baking soda and ¼ cup salt down the drain followed by 1 cup of heated vinegar. Let the drain foam and bubble for 10-15 minutes before running hot water down it for 30 seconds to rinse it out. Please note that this concoction does not unclog drains.
  4. To clean hardwater build up on faucet nozzles, cut a lemon in half, attach the citrus side to the nozzle, and secure it with a sandwich bag and a rubber band. Let it soak for at least an hour, then use a scrubbing pad to remove the loosened grime.
  5. To clean toilet stains, add a tablespoon of powdered oxygen bleach to the bowl and let it sit for 30 minutes. Do not use chlorine bleach, especially if you have a septic tank. The oxygen bleach should either remove the stain completely or loosen it enough so that you can use an ordinary toilet brush to remove it.


(Please also read the “Bathroom” section for drain, faucet, and sink cleaning tips.)

  1. To loosen grime from ovens that aren’t self-cleaning, fill an oven-safe bowl or pot with water, turn on the oven to 450 degrees, and the steam that is produced will help loosen stuck-on dirt for easier cleaning once it cools back down. Baking soda mixed with lemon can be used to scrub stubborn spots.
  2. Make your own stainless steel surface cleaner by mixing 1 teaspoon of dish detergent with 1 quart of hot tap water. Use a microfiber cloth to rub the solution onto dingy areas, rinse with hot water, and dry with a clean cloth. You can also use car wax to remove smudges and fingerprints from stainless steel appliances — just follow the directions on the container.
  3. If your kitchen garbage bin has an unpleasant smell, mix equal parts borax and water to deodorize it. This tip can also be used for any other trash receptacle inside or outside your home.
  4. To clean your microwave, place half a lemon in a cup of hot water, then heat it on high for 2-3 minutes to create steam to loosen dried food particles.
  5. Use hot water to clean the inside of your fridge. For stubborn stains and/or undesirable smells, add 1 teaspoon of baking soda per one cup of hot water for a deeper clean. Use a clean towel for drying.
  6. Use distilled white vinegar to clean greasy cabinets. For delicate finishes, dilute the vinegar with an equal amount of water. Be sure to try the solution on a small, inconspicuous test spot before spraying on the entire surface.


  1. Use a lint roller to remove dust from lampshades and curtains.
  2. Sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda on your sofa or mattress to remove unpleasant odors. Let it sit for about 20 minutes before using a handheld vacuum or your vacuum cleaner with an attachment to suction up the baking soda.
  3. To remove stains from pillows or cushions, mix 1 tablespoon each of white vinegar, dish liquid, baking soda, and warm water and gently rub the concoction into the stain. Be sure to test the mixture on an old piece of fabric or inconspicuous spot on your furniture before applying to the stain. Wipe the spot with warm water after removing the stain.
  4. Wrap a moistened cloth around a paint stir stick to dust between the slats of blinds. If your blinds are wooden, dry completely to prevent moisture from warping them.
  5. Use coffee filters or newspaper to wipe down window cleaner on glass and mirrors for a streak-free shine.

Countertops & Shelves

Since these can be made from many different materials (granite, ceramic tile, quartz, laminate, wood, etc.), please consult your owner’s manual for the safest way to clean specific types of counters and shelves.


Like countertops and shelves, floors can be made from many different materials. Here are a few general tips.

  1. Hot glue a wide-tooth comb to the top of a dustpan to keep the bristles of your broom clean. Just run your broom’s bristles through the comb’s teeth to get rid of any debris that’s stuck in them.
  2. Put used dryer sheets on the bottom of your sweeper as an inexpensive way to pick up dust and hair from hard floor surfaces.
  3. If you drop an earring, needle, or other small object in your carpet, cover your vacuum hose with an old nylon and secure it with a rubber band. Turn on the vacuum and use the hose to suction the area where the item was dropped, which will stick to the nylon without being pulled all the way into the vacuum.

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